'Moreland Woods' project advances, with encouragement of property owner
Since the "Moreland Woods" project at S.E. 14th and Claybourne Street in Westmoreland was reported by David F. Ashton in the October issue of THE BEE, more interest has developed.
The two-acre wooded parcel is owned by Wilhelm's Portland Memorial, and is just south of the Llewellyn School playground. Wilhelm's was acquired by the "Foundation Partners" of Florida a year ago – although it remains under the same management – and after the purchase, the new owner put two "surplus" lots up for sale.
One is been the Wilhelm's south parking lot on Bybee Boulevard, where the Moreland Farmers Market has been held recently; and the other is this "Moreland Woods" parcel, just north of Wilhelm's Mausoleum. The former lot was sold some time ago for development; the latter lot, zoned R5, has been for sale just as long, but has not yet found a buyer.
The new group "Friends of Moreland Woods" want the land to be acquired and administered as a city natural area. Currently the cleared area with over twenty mature fir trees is used as an informal community resource by neighbors, dog-walkers, and those wishing to enjoy the view across Oaks Bottom. The property extends downhill, and crosses part of the Oaks Bottom "cliff trail".
Westmorelander Amrita Kumar is neighborhood team leader of the Friends of Moreland Woods. Another team member, Elizabeth Milner, is also Co-Chair of the Stewardship of Natural Amenities Committee (SNAC) of the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League (SMILE) neighborhood association.Milner met with THE BEE to discuss the project.
Milner says the property owners have been very cooperative, and are willing to sell the lot to a public or charitable entity for a bargain price. They will allow the Friends group six months to a year to develop a plan and start arranging for financing. "We have till September of 2018 to plan. We're exploring establishing a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) entity, and several small businesses have offered to help us.
"We are asking for the financial and management support of the City of Portland and Metro Regional Government to help purchase and manage this treasure for the benefit of the neighborhood, wildlife, Llewellyn Elementary students, and the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge," she continued. "If we do not act, we will lose the opportunity for a valuable natural resource and a lasting community legacy.
"Neighbors have suggested that the north wall of the Mausoleum might be a great place to project summer movies. And, with so many new homes going in in our area, people will need more green spaces. With improvements such as water and electricity, the site could be a new home for a community garden or the now-displaced Moreland Farmers Market."
She told us that hundreds of visitors to the site have signed a petition to "save the scenic natural area for future generations". On October 22, some thirty neighbors met at the site for a Forest Party & Cleanup. According to former SMILE President Corinne Stefanick, one of the original organizers of the group, "People came with kids and garden equipment and did a significant job of transferring trash to dumpsters provided by Wilhelm's Portland Memorial.
"We had face-painting and sugar cookie decorating, horseshoes, and [games of] petanque," reported Stefanick. "Teams pulled out ivy, picked up branches, litter, and dog poop, and raked up debris. Many thanks to Wilhelm's for their help, Starbucks for coffee, and all the folks who assisted. If you wish to get involved, please attend an update meeting at 6 p.m. at November 29 at SMILE Station, 8210 S.E. 13th, and visit the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/friendsofmorelandwoods."
Another online source of information is – morelandwoods.nationbuilder.com